VIDEO: Dog attacks on Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserve

23 January 2017 | Posted in , Malling Down
VIDEO: Dog attacks on Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserve

James Power, Head of Land Management, talks about recent dog attacks at Malling Down nature reserve which have left ten sheep dead and the importance of conservation grazing in managing our nature reserves. Find out more about dogs on nature reserves here.

If you have any information on these attacks please call the Police on 101.


  • Kim Overington:

    26 Jan 2017 13:07:18

    Could it be these attacks are from stray dogs? I can’t believe dog owners would allow their dogs to carry out such despicable acts.

    So sad :(

  • Gill:

    26 Jan 2017 13:34:28

    There is no excuse for dogs to be allowed, knowingly, to be loose amongst livestock. The only reason I can think of, apart from the dogs being strays/escapees, would be that the owners were taken by surprise or were totally irresponsible. I experienced a near incident when walking my dogs along a path that I’d walked frequently for years. On every other occasion there had been horses in the field so I was, wrongly, assuming it would be the same on that occasion. Unfortunately, there were sheep in the field instead. One of my dogs took off towards the sheep but, thank goodness, came back to me on command. That situation could have been avoided by the sheep owner putting up signs as it was very close to a village and many people with dogs, walked that path. With the countryside shrinking and coming more and more into contact with urbanisation, there has to be compromise. Stock owners and dog owners both need to take responsibility. I’ve also experienced losing animals myself when a dog owner walked her collie off the footpath, off lead, and around the back of my property resulting in the fatal maiming of my goose and one of my ducks. It’s very sad and unnecessary if everyone behaves responsibly.

  • Miss C B MORRISON:

    26 Jan 2017 13:44:35

    having had my leg fractures by an out of control dog, I was appalled to learn about the poor sheep.It is totally disgusting that dog owners can allow their pets to roam freely where livestock or indeed people, especially children are enjoying the Sussex countryside and particularly the Nature Reserves which I do feel are not the place for dogs. When lambing time approaches I sincerely hope Suusex Wildlife and their team will ban dogs completely. The farmer and the sheep have my deepest sympathy. Christine.

  • Marie S:

    26 Jan 2017 14:14:10

    I saw a large number of dead sheep with their throats torn out in the valley between the SDW and Balsdean before Christmas. Along with these others at Malling Down, surely something unusual is going on here?

  • jenny simpson:

    26 Jan 2017 14:15:38

    I live near Buxted Park where sheep were being grazed for a few years but the owners had to remove the sheep because many dog walkers refused to adhere to keeping their dogs on leads and many were killed and driven into the river whilst lambing. If I saw dogs off a lead heading toward a field full of sheep I would warn the owners (often miles behind) and they would very often be very offended at just being warned of the presence of sheep. I love dogs but there are many dog owners who believe their dogs have right to roam, attack sheep and pooh wherever they choose. It is the same on Ashdown Forest, people ‘choose’ to walk their dogs where there are sheep in favour of walking where there are NONE! They are not stray dogs just irresponsible and heartless owners.

  • Gillian Nirthover:

    26 Jan 2017 14:16:27

    I have owned dogs for more than 30 years and have sheep trained each new puppy. It takes awhile but once trained they will not even look at a sheep or horse or cow for that matter!
    We enjoy walking in the reserves and being responsible members of The Sussex Wildlife Trust.

  • Christine:

    26 Jan 2017 15:03:41

    I am very sorry to hear about the poor sheep that have been killed. However I don’t know if there were any information signs pointing out that sheep were present. I have had a similar experience to Miss Morrison. I had been walking my dogs in an area in Surrey for years and without warning sheep were put into a field. There was no sign informing walkers that sheep were grazing. Luckily my dog was near enough for me to put on a lead.
    I also agree though that dog owners should always take care if there is livestock around, you don’t know how your dog will react unless it has been specifically trained to not chase or worry animals.

  • Sussex Wildlife Trust:

    26 Jan 2017 15:16:41

    Hi Christine, yes we have signs on all entrances to our nature reserves when livestock are present.

  • Joan MacGregor:

    26 Jan 2017 15:29:08

    I have been subjected to verbal abuse from dog owners when pointing out (politely) that their dogs should be on a lead when in a field with livestock and many seem to be convinced that their dog would never attack other animals. A ranger told me that when dealing with recalcitrant dog owners he explains that the farmer is entitled to shoot the dog on sight if seen loose amongst livestock and asks if they want to take that risk!

  • leila wilson:

    26 Jan 2017 17:11:59

    I know some dogs go after sheep and unfortunately can kill them.
    Is it at all possible that some of these attacks could be by another animal attack. Over the years we have heard and some even seen wild large cats that were once pets then turfed out when not wanted. These large cats would have to kill to survive. What do the experts think about this possibility.
    I guess they could tell by the wounds on the sheep whether a dog or a larger animal committed the death.

  • Kate Edmonds:

    26 Jan 2017 20:43:40

    Could the hounds from a local hunt be involved. I see reports that they are not always under control.

  • krystyna weinstein:

    27 Jan 2017 09:08:58

    James, in addition to notices on gates, could the general public be made more aware of the danger of dogs in fields by reading about it in the local press, Lewes newsletters and Viva Lewes. It may be that non-SWT members are less conscious of the danger dogs pose. Just a thought. I’ve also warned owners whose dogs are running free in fields with sheep – and presumably with lambs being born shortly, the danger will increase.

  • Gail Greaves:

    27 Jan 2017 11:38:26

    Such a distressing story; dog owners must be aware that sheep are grazing as I know that the Trust always puts up notices on the entry gates where there are sheep. It is another case of people thinking their pet could not ever behave in an unexpected way, but dogs are animals of natural instincts and unless trained otherwise, can attack sheep. I can only suggest more notices, more publicity and patrols by Officers.

  • Cathy Ede-Morley:

    27 Jan 2017 15:20:39

    My dogs have always been brought up with livestock, however in the last few years my circumstances have changed, so my last three dogs haven’t. For this reason I took my dogs to ‘Sheep Proof your Dog’.
    It is just outside of East Sussex in Cranbrook, Kent.
    Tobin the farmer has a Facebook Page and a website
    I can highly recommend Tobins work, within 20 minutes mine and my friends dogs were being walked off lead with the sheep.

  • Rosemary Marshall:

    27 Jan 2017 15:21:58

    A couple of years ago I was walking the heathland at RSPB Pulborough. A loose dog and two men came into my view. On asking them politely to put the dog on a lead as there were ground nesting birds about I received a mouthful of abuse from the older man, while the younger did at least stop to hear the reason for my request. Whether I influenced him I do not know, but at least it was worth trying.

  • Colin:

    27 Jan 2017 17:14:54

    It is a fact that there are many irresponsible dog owners around. The front page of today’s Argus highlights another case where a farmer had to shoot a ‘family pet’ who was terrorising his flock. Sadly this is the only way to deal with this problem.

  • Nick Warwick:

    27 Jan 2017 21:35:46

    I heard that my local farmer makes his fences sheep proof but not dog proof. I think if I were a farmer I’d do anything to minimise the risk and make them dog proof anyway even if that would be going beyond my obligation, although I know nothing of what extra cost that might entail.

  • Joe:

    28 Jan 2017 11:19:41

    As the owner of a terrier cross who would definitely chase livestock if she had the chance I have to be very careful when out walking and never let her off the lead near livestock. I don’t know about Malling down but I often find there is no/out of date signage. I can’t help feeling there is an app that needs to be made here which farmers can easily update so dog walkers are aware where sheep are being grazed. Is there someone out there tech-savvy enough to make it?

  • Elizabeth Hindson:

    30 Jan 2017 10:40:28

    I am very upset to learn about so many dog attacks on sheep. I really don’t know why people refuse to keep their dogs on leads when it’s appropriate. The people who own the dogs responsible for attacks on sheep should be given substantial fines and banned from walking their dogs in areas managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust.

  • David:

    24 Oct 2017 08:15:39

    Dogs that go sheep worrying often seem to be doing it with another dog – either strays or escape artist dogs (dogs that have escaped from their homes to go walkabout together). Training dogs to be stock safe doesnt seem to be part of basic kennel club puppy class training. We live in an area where sheep graze in nearby fields – and we were a bit clueless as to how to encourage our puppy to be reasonably stocksafe but…on seeing a sheep on the other side of an electric fence (alongside the footpath we were walking), he suddenly and unexpectedly decided he wanted a closer look. He was on a long lead and just as the sheep did a sideways jump away, our puppy’s nose touched the electric fence and he got a heck of a shock. No real harm done. Ever since then (he was 12 months old) he has always seemed to want to give livestock a wide berth. He likes to keep us between him and any animals. A strange and unplanned way to instantly train a dog to be livestock safe? But the unplanned incident has probably had a good effect.

  • Max:

    13 May 2018 11:50:45

    There is NO excuse for irresponsible dog owners put you dog on a lead in the presence of live stock. How would these irresponsible dog owners like to find there dog mauled to death by another animal?? That’s how the farmer feels every time he finds his sheep dead. I have personally witnessed a few times dogs chasing sheep cows and horses around a field with the owner screaming at the top of their voice trying to get their dog back under control.
    It’s NOT stray dogs it’s dogs that the owner has lost control of. All of this can be avoided by owners keeping their dogs on a lead in the presence of livestock ITS SO SIMPLE!!! Responsible dog owners will willingly do this irresponsible owners will still continue not doing it

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